Where is it 5 o'clock?

In 2003 Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett released the song It's Five O'clock Somewhere. It went on to spend 8 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. It also reached number 17 on the US Hot 100, making it a huge crossover hit.

This poses the question, where is it 5 o'clock exactly at this moment and what is going on in that area? My brother created a website http://wheresitfiveoclock.com based off of publically available material to determine where in the world it is 5 o'clock by using time zones and day light savings calculations. Sources include:
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki
  2. http://www.timeanddate.com/
  3. http://www.worldweatheronline.com/
  4. http://www.yelp.com/
I decided to create a windows phone application based off of the website http://wheresitfiveoclock.com/. This app shows you where it is currently 5 o'clock with the weather information. Hopefully, this app leads you to travel more and see more of the world. Leisure is important to your health so say it with us: It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
Main view

Live tile support

DAAP Media Player for Windows 8

DAAP, the digital audio access protocol that is commonly used by NAS devices to deliver personal music shares to your devices, is now available in Windows 8 Store! Now you can stream your music while using all of your Windows applications. The current release is available in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Simplified and Traditional Chinese.
Please leave any concerns or issues in the comments below.
Initial setup process.
List of albums.
Playing a song.

Coalescable Timers in Typescript

Not too many people may be familiar with the concept of coalescable timers, but they an be very useful for a power conscious application without hard real time requirements. Coalesce literally means "to grow together". In the case of timers, this means that multiple timers are allowed to be combined into one. This is usually done to reduce the number of times a computer is woken from a low power state to perform some action. This can be incredibly useful with mobile processors where power is very critical. As more and more applications move towards web applications to reduce re-implementing code in multiple mobile SDKs, it becomes necessary to introduce an implementation of coalescable timers into JavaScript, the client side logic language of modern web applications.

The idea is that when creating a timer, a tolerance value is specified that states how much variability is allowed in the timer. The tolerance allows timers with similar values to "grow together" into one timer. Examine the following example:

Timer 1: Trigger every 1 minutes with tolerance of 10 seconds
Timer 2: Trigger every 50 seconds with tolerance of 10 seconds

Coalesced Timer: Trigger every 60 seconds

Now becomes time to describe an algorithm for implementing coalescable timers. The goal is to minimize the number of times a timer is triggered. When a new timer is created, examine the existing timers, if any of the existing coalesced timers satisfy the requirements, add the new timer to the existing ones. If no existing coalesced timer handles the requirements specified, then create a new coalesced timer. Below is an implementation in TypeScript, which compiles down to basic JavaScript:

// Module containing all logic for coalescable timers
module Coalescable {
    // Variable holding all coalesced timers that are aggregating the individual timers
    var timers: CoalescedTimer[] = new CoalescedTimer[];

    export function SetCoalescableTimeout(expression: any, msec: number, tolerance: number): void {
        // Search existing coalesced timers for timers that can accomodate this request
        for (var index: number = 0; index < timers.length; index++) {
            var coalescedTimer: CoalescedTimer = timers[index];
            if (msec - tolerance < coalescedTimer.msec &&
                msec + tolerance > coalescedTimer.msec) {
                coalescedTimer.Timers.push(expression);
                return;
            }
        }

        // Create a new coalesced timer since none can accomodate this request
        var coalescedTimer: CoalescedTimer = new CoalescedTimer(msec)
        coalescedTimer.Timers.push(expression);
        timers.push(coalescedTimer);
    }

    class CoalescedTimer {
        constructor(public msec: number) {
            setInterval(function () => {
                for (var index: number = 0; index < this.Timers.length; index++) {
                    new Function(this.Timers[index])();
                }
            }, msec);
        }

        public Timers: any[] = new any[];
    }
}

Coalescable.SetCoalescableTimeout("alert('1')", 5000, 10); // Will create a new coalesced timer since none exist.
Coalescable.SetCoalescableTimeout("alert('2')", 6000, 2000); // Will be coalesced into the existing timer to run every 5000ms.


Obviously this is a first implementation. Many improvements could be made, such as minimizing distance from threshold when more than one coalesced timer exists to service a new timer request. There are also a few other interesting scenarios. Say creating a new timer means that a new coalesced timer will be created. In this case, it may make sense to move an existing timer to this new coalesced timer to reduce the difference from the requested interval and the coalesced interval. Also, cancelling or clearing a timeout should be supported.

DAAP Media Player released on Windows Phone!

Today marks the general availability of the first version of DAAP Media Player for Windows Phone! As some of you may know, DAAP, digital audio access protocol, is a protocol initially developed by Apple for sharing audio across computers through iTunes. A while ago, my brother and I released an Android implementation of the DAAP protocol, but now is the time for Windows Phone. As with all platforms, it pays to have the implementation be a native application that takes full advantage of the platforms features.

We have taken the opportunity to do some optimizations that we have been wanting to do to the Android application but did not do initially. First and foremost, songs are cached in a local database after initially being fetched. This is opposite to Android where all songs are downloaded every time the application is launched. This can be a major benefit for libraries with a large amount of songs. Also, the Windows Phone platform has a great mechanism for playing songs independently of the application. This means that you can do any other tasks while listening to your music with no interruptions. You can change songs, play/pause, etc. from the volume button just as if DAAP Media Player was your local media application (even from the lock screen!).




The pricing is roughly $2 with a trial ad-supported version supported. You can find the application in the store by searching DAAP or installing from the Windows Phone Store website: DAAP Media Player.

HOTP on Windows Phone 8!

Recently I have been working on porting the existing Android one time password application to Windows Phone 8. Well the efforts have come to fruition. Now you can use your Windows Phone Device to create HOTP tokens for your authentication purposes. Below are some teaser screenshots:

Let me know any comments on the application below. You can download the application from the Windows Store here: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/hotp/ad7aad9e-294f-4731-9a5f-994a9cbaed13

Emulating Windows 8 Tilt Effect

When you click on a tile from the start screen on Windows 8, there is a nice effect where the tile "tilts" backwards towards the pointer or touch location. See below for an example:

Taken from IEBlog
The tilt direction appears be to based on the mouse or touch location. The image above was taken when the click was towards the right side of the live tile. The regions of the image that dictate the direction of the tilt is dictated roughly by the below guidelines:

Regions that determine direction of tilt.

The center region simply causes the tile to be depressed as an HTML button or other similar icon. The first step towards emulating this behavior is to determine the direction of the tilt. Once the direction is chose, we must apply the correct CSS3 3D transform to the tile.

Let's first define our points of interest relative to our object, which will be defined by its top-left coordinate (left, top) with width width and height height.
1. Center defined by rectangle:
(left+(width/2)-(.1*left), top+(height/2)-(.1*top)) width .2*width height .2*height.
2. Descending line defined by point (left, top) and slope (-height / width):
ytop = (-height / width) * (x - left)
3. Ascending line defined by point (left, top+height) and slope (heigh,width):
y - (top + height) = (height / width) * (x - left)

Now that we've defined our points of interest, we can take the incoming click and determine which direction the tilt is. The below code will install an event handler for the mouse down event for ever element with class "tilt".
        $(".tilt").each(function () {
            $(this).mousedown(function (event) {
                // Does the click reside in the center of the object 
                if (event.pageX > $(this).offset().left + ($(this).outerWidth() / 2) - (0.1 * $(this).outerWidth()) &&
                        event.pageX < $(this).offset().left + ($(this).outerWidth() / 2) + (0.1 * $(this).outerWidth()) &&
                        event.pageY > $(this).offset().top + ($(this).outerHeight() / 2) - (0.1 * $(this).outerHeight()) &&
                        event.pageY < $(this).offset().top + ($(this).outerHeight() / 2) + (0.1 * $(this).outerHeight())) {
                    $(this).css("transform", "perspective(500px) translateZ(-15px)");
                } else {
                    var slope = $(this).outerHeight() / $(this).outerWidth(),
                        descendingY = (slope * (event.pageX - $(this).offset().left)) + $(this).offset().top,
                        ascendingY = (-slope * (event.pageX - $(this).offset().left)) + $(this).offset().top + $(this).outerHeight();

                    if (event.pageY < descendingY) {
                        if (event.pageY < ascendingY) {
                            // top region
                            $(this).css("transform", "perspective(500px) rotateX(8deg)");
                        } else {
                            // right region
                            $(this).css("transform", "perspective(500px) rotateY(8deg)");
                        }
                    } else {
                        if (event.pageY > ascendingY) {
                            // bottom region
                            $(this).css("transform", "perspective(500px) rotateX(-8deg)");
                        } else {
                            // left region
                            $(this).css("transform", "perspective(500px) rotateY(-8deg)");
                        }
                    }
                }
            });

            $(this).mouseup(function (event) {
                $(this).css("transform", "");
            });
        });

Here is a below working example. Click the image to see the tilt effect:


Let me know if you find any particular issues with any browsers or have any comments below. I also should plug the useful tools used to help with this code:

Non-negative matrix factorization

In line with my previous post, I would like to take a look at using a technique called Nonnegative matrix factorization for creating an unsupervised learning classifier. The idea is given a matrix with no negative entries, factor the matrix into two other matrices such that their product is approximately equal to the original matrix. Assuming such a factorization exists, we can extract information from the resulting matrices that help describe the dependencies of the entries in the original matrix. By knowing the dependencies, we can see what elements are related to each other, and group them accordingly. Let's do an example by hand first with A, a 4x2 matrix :

A = [1 1;
     2 1;
     4 3;
     5 4];
Suppose we discover two matrices W and H such that W*H approximately equal to A:
W = [0.29291    1.85124;
     1.94600    0.26850;
     2.53183    3.97099;
     2.82474    5.82223];

H = [0.97449    0.44915;
     0.38599    0.46911];

W*H = [1.0000    1.0000;
       2.0000    1.0000;
       4.0000    3.0000;
       5.0000    4.0000];
What do the values in W and H say about the data in A? Let's examine just row 3 in W*H:
2.53183 * 0.97449 + 3.97099 * 0.38599 % = 4.0000
2.53183 * 0.44915 + 3.97099 * 0.46911 % = 3.0000

We notice that 3.97099 from row 3 of W is greater than 2.53183 of the same row. This means that row 3 in the result of W*H will be more heavily influenced by the second row of H ([0.83599 0.46911]). By looking at which column is greater in W, we can divide the data into two groups, one group more influenced by the first row of H (row 2 of A), and another group more influenced on the second row of H (rows 1, 3, & 4 of A). Using this logic, we can treat H as a sort of basis for the entries in W. Using this understanding of the matrices W and H, we can say that W defines which group an entry in A belongs where H defines the basis of the entire group. By controlling the dimensions of W and H, we can chose how many groups we want the factorization to create.

There has been much research into algorithms that actually can find the nonnegative matrix factorization of a matrix, but I will show just one of the most basic and earliest ones originating with Lee and Seung. Essentially the algorithm begins with an initial guess of W and H and then iteratively updates them using a rule proven not to increase the error of the approximation of A. Here is an Octave/Matlab implementation:

function [W, H] = nnmf(A, k)
%nnmf factorizes matrix A into to matrices W, H such that W*H ~= A
% A must be non negative
% k is used to define the dimensions of W and H
m = size(A, 1); % # of rows in A
n = size(A, 2); % # of cols in A
W = rand(m, k);
H = rand(k, n);

for i = 1:1500
   % update rule proven to not increase the 
   % error of the approximation
   % when cost = (1/2) * sum(sum((A - W*H) .^ 2));
   W = W .* (A * H') ./ (W*H*H' + 10^-9);
   H = H .* (W' * A) ./ (W'*W*H + 10^-9);
end
end
Using this algorithm, we can now create a classifier based on nonnegative matrix factorization. We start with a set of points and then decide how many groups we want to classify the data into. When then supply this information into the algorithm to get a factorization.
X = [1 1;
     2 1;
     4 3;
     5 4];
[W H] = nnmf(X, 2)

W =
   1.12234   0.19811
   0.31776   1.80444
   2.56244   2.20065
   3.68479   2.39876

H =
   0.71766   0.81862
   0.98200   0.41003

Now to better see the classification, we can create a matrix Wn, such that the 1 entry in each row is the maximum column from W for that row. This will indicate which group a data entry belongs.

Wn =
   1   0
   0   1
   1   0
   1   0

So given the original 4 data points, we have classified them into two groups. Similarly to k-means clustering, this algorithm can be used to group extremely complex groups of data, such as web results, documents, spam, etc. Please comment if I can explain more clearly or missed any crucial information.